Something I have noticed during the past four semesters of my college experience is the lack of personal space. And not just personal space in the literal sense of the phrase, but mental “personal space” if you will, especially when you’re living on campus or with a gaggle of roommates. There’s simply not much you can hide. If you’re having a bad day, someone will notice. Everyone just knows your business.
(And don’t lie, you know everyone else’s business. And if you don’t, you’ll probably ask.)
I don’t think it’s because we all get to college and become incurable gossips. It’s just the obvious — we live with each other. We are deeply woven into our friends’ lives because we don’t really have another choice. It is one of the most beautiful and yet the most irritating parts of being in college.
I think if you ask most college students they’ll tell you they love this forced closeness most of the time — but sometimes, yeah, they hate it. My roommate and I talk about this a lot. If you need to cry and punch your pillow and have a little pity party, where do you go? The bathroom? Maybe your room if your roommate’s away? I personally use the practice rooms in the music building. Works like a charm (if you don’t mind obscure times.)
We’re constantly “all up in each others’ business,” plainly speaking. While it can be frustrating at times, and conflicts become real and gritty and friendships suffer, it is a time to be transparent. There’s not much more liberating than being completely transparent and real with another human being. It is a raw and beautiful thing.
Until college, I had never had the opportunity to be this real and present in my friendships. My best friend and I have always been honest and real with each other, but my other friendships didn’t have the opportunity to really dig deeply into the dirt and grit of our lives. But here, in college, I’ve cried my hardest in front of friends. I’ve held my friends while they cried. I’ve dropped everything when they needed me and they have done the same. I’ve FELT things on behalf of my friends. Despair. Anger. Happiness. I’ve been honest when I haven’t wanted to because they were there.
Transparency. Honesty. Rawness. That’s the glue that holds friendships together. We casually call these transparent moments “real talk” and we (understandably) gripe about our lack of personal space, but could it maybe be exactly what we need?
I think we need it daily. I think we need gritty, honest, imperfect, ugly beautiful REAL talk every day of our lives. We need the opportunity to really do life with people, letting them see our ugly beautiful lives as they are. So thank you, college, (and tiny living spaces) for giving me the opportunity to let transparency transform my relationships.